London (AFP) – Liverpool offered the chasing pack in the Premier League title race a late Christmas gift by throwing away two points at home to struggling West Brom in a 1-1 draw on Sunday, as Tottenham were also held 1-1 at Wolves.
The defending champions edged three points clear at the top of the table, but dropped points in the league at Anfield for just the second time in 34 games after failing to make the most of a dominant first-half performance.
Sadio Mane opened the scoring with a classy finish on 12 minutes as Jurgen Klopp’s men had the Baggies camped inside their own half until the break, but eased off in the second-half and were made to pay.
Sam Allardyce was taking charge of West Brom for just the second time and the former England manager’s excellent recent record at Anfield continued when Semi Ajayi rose to head home from a corner eight minutes from time and give the visitors’ a valuable point in their battle to avoid relegation.
Allardyce has now not been beaten in his last four away league games against Klopp’s Liverpool with four different clubs.
“It was our own fault,” said Klopp. “We gave them simple corners and that’s the only thing they wanted to have tonight. That’s why it is only one point instead of three.”
West Brom remain second bottom, but are now within five points of safety.
“Every man today showed the spirit this team needs to get out of this position,” said Allardyce. “I saw a lot of guts, a lot of determination and a lot of quality.”
– Tottenham lack ‘ambition’ –
Tottenham moved up to fifth, but missed another chance to close on Liverpool as their winless streak in the league extended to four games.
Spurs got off to a dream start when Rui Patricio was slow to react to Tanguy Ndombele’s strike from the edge of the box.
However, just like in a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace two weeks ago, Jose Mourinho’s men sat on their narrow lead and were punished.
“We didn’t have that ambition, that desire to go for more,” said Mourinho. “One point against Wolves normally wouldn’t be a bad result because they are a strong opponent, but scoring a goal in the first minute and having 89 minutes to score more goals, you feel frustrated.”
Wolves dominated the second-half but lacked a goal threat with the injured Raul Jimenez sat in the stands recuperating from a fractured skull.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s men did finally get their reward four minutes from time when Romain Saiss flicked home Pedro Neto’s corner.
Wolves even wasted a huge chance to win the game in stoppage time when Fabio Silva headed straight at Hugo Lloris.
– Leeds ride their luck –
Earlier, Patrick Bamford’s penalty earned Leeds a controversial 1-0 win over Burnley to move Marcelo Bielsa’s men up to 12th, nine points clear of the relegation zone.
The only goal at Elland Road came after just five minutes when Bamford was wiped out by the onrushing Nick Pope and fired home the resulting penalty for his 10th goal of the season.
Burnley felt doubly aggrieved not to level 12 minutes later when Ashley Barnes smashed home after Illan Meslier fumbled a high ball into the box.
The French goalkeeper was awarded a free-kick for backing in by Ben Mee and despite Meslier appearing to be the aggressor, the goal could not be reviewed by VAR as referee Robert Jones had blown for the foul before the ball hit the net.
“Not only is it a penalty, we put it in the goal and he doesn’t give it one second to review it,” said Burnley boss Sean Dyche.
Defeat sees the Clarets drop to 17th, still just two points above the relegation zone.
Brighton edged ahead of Burnley thanks to a 2-2 draw at West Ham, but will be disappointed to have thrown away the chance of just a second win in 14 games.
Twice the Seagulls led through Neal Maupay and Lewis Dunk, but Ben Johnson slotted home his first senior goal to make it 1-1 before Tomas Soucek’s header earned a point eight minutes from time.
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